Riding on the positive feedback of Koichi Sato’s first solo show in Hong Kong last year, WOAW has joined forces again with Ross + Kramer Gallery and Bill Brady Gallery to bring an exclusive series of Sato’s work to prints.
Koichi Sato (b. 1974) is a self-taught New York City based artist originally born in Tokyo. Having grown up influenced by the abundance of images in television and sports, his paintings generally focus on the playful reinvention of these images in bold stylization, pattern, and color. He is fascinated by old American magazines, often using photos from these as primary influences for his intriguing and downright funny paintings.
He began his career as an art outsider, forgoing traditional or institutional training entirely to paint primarily whimsical portraits of faces. His paintings are meant to make people laugh, he loves the people in his paintings, he’s not making fun of anyone. His portraits are works of positivity and happiness that shine a fresh and friendly perspective on images of people that one may be accustomed to overlooking. This sense of happiness made apparent in the comically stylized faces (often painted purposely square and disproportionate, with an intense grin) and exaggerated bodies is echoed in Sato’s celebratory use of color and pattern. He loves the color yellow. The patterns in the background of Sato’s group portraits help to flatten the portraits further, crowding the group to the foreground. The flatness echoes the flatness evoked in a photograph on a magazine page, his main source material. However, as closely related as his imagery can seem, Sato confirmed out that his work is more than a reiteration and heavily based in his own conceptions While I’m painting, I give my imagination a chance.
Revisit Koichi Sato’s Ecstasy Journey with the beautifully wrapped forest green set detailed with Sato’s journey in reflective presswork. The edition prints feature his signature bulky figures on a journey seeming to erupt from everywhere but New York City where the artist is based in real life. Sato’s journey has a colorful cast of Mariachis, Hippies, African villagers and South American tribes.
The paintings take place in an undefined “elsewhere” breaking away from the traditional witnessing aspect of figuration to focus instead on an artist’s imaginative plea for escape from the oppressive nature of day to day life in New York. The use of pattern on the figures’ clothing overflows into the negative space of the image creating a feel of compression of time and space to underline the dream like state of each painting. Just as the viewer loses track of what is part of each distinct figure’s arm, or foliage or sky he or she loses track of where exactly these figures exist and who they are. The imaginative quality is again underlined in the bold use of color. Symbolic golden yellow suns and halos lead us from scene to scene of Sato’s journey, always returning us to the happy figures, smiling constantly.
“ECSTASY JOURNEY” a set of four art piece including a green portfolio case. Edition of 36, signed and numbered by the Artist. The series of work will be available at WOAW Online Store at Hong Kong Time 12:00am on 15th September, 2020 (Eastern Time 12:00pm on 14th September).